We all know how easy it can be to get sucked into the world of drifting. For a lot of people, it takes spectating about half a lap to start thinking “maybe that clapped Miata on Facebook Marketplace isn’t such a bad idea…” Before long, it's hard to think of too much else.
The recipient of this year’s Most Improved Driver award knows that phenomenon all too well, but it has been awesome for anyone who has had the opportunity to watch her progress over the past couple seasons.
Deidra Drake has become a drifting devotee and an excellent example for anyone looking to get into the sport:
“Once you get into it, it kind of just takes over a little bit, almost to the point where I have to remind myself ‘you’ve got to do other things, like make time to hang out with friends.’ Because when you're not drifting, you're working on your car or you're planning different things for your car or hanging out with your car friends and doing stuff with their cars.”
With a couple seasons under her belt, she’s got her eyes set on Drift Indy Street League and pushing herself even further this season. It hasn’t come easy to her though, and hers is a great story of perseverance. We hopped on Zoom to reflect on her journey:
What’s your drifting story?
So I've always loved cars, but my passion and the hobby side of it didn't start for me with drifting. It definitely started like in the stance world. So I had built an E46, which I still have, and I would just travel around to a lot of different shows. Actually my first drift event ever was Street Life Tour in 2014 and I brought my E46. They used to have the car show as part of it too. So yeah, I brought my E46 and had it in the show and that was really like my first exposure to drifting ever.
Honestly, other than Tokyo Drift and stuff like that, I just didn't know normal people could drift, and after watching that event, I thought it was the coolest thing ever, but I said, “there's no way I could ever do this,” like, I would love to, but I don't know. I just thought it would be impossible.
So I stayed in the stance world a little bit longer and, I don't know, it just kind of started to get boring a little bit. It's fun, but you really just park your car and just, like, stare at it. So I was able to convince Mike to get a drift car and once he started drifting, I was like, “Okay, I have to do it now too. It's too much. I love going to the events, but it's too much to just watch. I have to try it.”
So I bought my Z. I think it was 2021 and I did one clinic at the end of that year and did a few Test ‘n Tunes too, which was awesome. Joey Ritter was somebody that was super helpful for me. Mike would always come and obviously, a lot of people might not know, but having your husband in the car with you i's the best thing ever. But you do kind of butt heads a little bit sometimes, so he would always try to throw other people in the car with me. So Joey taught me how to do some donuts and stuff like that, which was awesome. My first real year I would say, would be 2022. I did three clinics that year and then I did the Drift Kitchen and the Luau and then Halloween bash.
So when did things really start clicking for you? When did you really start to see and feel your progression?
Definitely this year, at the beginning of this year. I'm going to be honest, 2022 was a little miserable for me. There were so many times where I just wanted to quit and just be done with it. Like some people, I feel like they get in the car and they can immediately link the track like right out of the gate. They just get it. That's how Mike was, and I was just constantly like comparing myself to other people, and that made it so hard for me. And on top of that, that whole first year I was fighting problems with my car. The angle kit was a huge problem for me and I ended up upgrading to a better one and that really helped me a lot.
Deidra and Mike really make for a drifting power couple <3
Honestly, I think the amount of clinics that I did and then sim driving definitely helped me a lot like over the winter, but really just having such a diverse amount of people get in the car with me and help me. I really had that happen at the beginning of this year where it would be like Mike and then Roy and Shawn Allgood, and JB has helped me a lot.
So, such a different group of people will give you different perspectives. And I don't know, just somebody might say one thing and it'll just resonate. And I think that's what happened to me. So, I stopped caring about and comparing myself to other people as much this year and kind of just tried to have more fun with it. That took the pressure off and it made it so I could have fun with it.
Photo courtesy of Nick Quigley
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Away from drifting, Deidra works as a graphic and web designer. She works for a company that does a lot in the healthcare sphere, but leaves her plenty of time for freelance design work. That’s where she gets to focus on her passion for motorsports, including designing some merch for us here at Drift Indy.
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Do you draw any inspiration, any parallels coming from an art background into drifting? How does that play into how you think about driving and how you think about styling your car?
I definitely think that they go hand-in-hand. Like, I know drifting is a motorsport, but I definitely think it's more of an art than it is a sport, honestly. And drifting is so cool just because if you look at everyone's cars, it's a reflection of their personality and who they are. There's always creativity that can go into it. So I think it does very much go hand in hand, and I think having an artistic background has definitely helped me in a lot of areas and that's why I'm super excited to make my car look a little bit more the way I want it to look this year.
Do you have any plans for the car going forward? Any big changes you're going to make for next season?
So, when I got this car, I wanted to pick the most subtle color because I thought “when I'm learning I don't wanna stand out at all,” and now that I'm actually doing better I want my car to reflect my personality a little bit more.
So, I actually just got my rap in two days ago. I'll tell you, but it's _____. It's like the softest, like, _____, but I think it’s so pretty, so I’m doing that. And then I've got clear taillight that I’m putting on the car. Really, my goal for this year with the car, like, it's set up perfectly, I just really just want it to reflect my style more and stick out a little bit more.
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I’ll save surprise of the new look for her to reveal when she’s ready, but I think it’s gonna look rad!
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There aren't there aren't a ton of women drivers at our events, so I wanted to ask what that experience has been like for you? And then also if you have any advice for any other women that might be hesitant to try and get behind the wheel.
So honestly, I feel like there aren't that many women drivers, but the ones that do drive Kil-kare are the best, most supportive ladies. Like, so supportive. And I feel like that was something that helped me a ton getting into it because I feel like, in a lot of other areas, women are very competitive against each other, but Miranda was so supportive to me, Grace, all the girls that drive, we're all each other's biggest fans. And I think that’s something that I wish other girls knew. I think more girls would want to drive just knowing that we're all on each other's team and we all just want each other to get better.
And then I know me, Grace and Miranda are doing the Girls Gone Drifting event with Drift Indy this year, so I think for any girl that wants to drive, that will be a great opportunity for them to come out. Even if they've never driven before or if they have, there's no pressure.
I think that's another problem too. A lot of women get scared because they just feel like the guys are going to be judging them or making fun of them. And it obviously does happen sometimes, unfortunately. But you just have to not let it bother you and just do it for yourself and know that for every one or two people that might be laughing at you, there's 100 people that are rooting for you.
The best thing that I did was befriending the grid workers because they’ve been my biggest fans. Honestly, they are the most understanding. There would be times where I'd be on grid crying and they would just help calm me down and just point me in the right direction. Just having the support from them is so good.
So with all that in mind, what has getting the Most Improved award meant to you?
Honestly, I was kind of in shock when Edgar called me and was like “hey, you're going to get an award. Just a heads up.”
I kind of thought he was lying to me. Like, I have to physically be handed the award to know that it's real
It was just crazy to me to think that, out of everyone, I could have gotten that. But at the same time, coming from where I was in 2022 and wanting to give up and just pushing through and forcing myself to just keep going even when I didn't want to do it anymore, it's a really good feeling to be recognized for that and to know that all the hard work paid off. It's nice for me now too, because when I see people struggling, I can kind of be a voice of reason and say “you can do it. You’ve just gotta stay positive and stop comparing yourself to other people.”
It's a really good feeling and I'm so optimistic going into next year because of it.
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With a fresh start for DISL this season, it’s a perfect opportunity for Deidra and other up-and-comers to continue to make a name for themselves. It’s great for the community to have folks like her to look to for inspiration when the going gets tough, as it almost inevitably does when everybody’s just starting out.
Photo courtesy of Jake Nemo
To round things off, here’s a little build summary on her simple 350Z setup:
She’s rocking BC coils, ISR Pro Rear arms and the FDF Mantis front kit with Z1 upper arms up front. It’s got a welded diff, a diff brace, an oversized plenum spacer, an exhaust and a tune. NRG seats and a KBD bodykit round it out. It’s simple, it works and it looks clean, so what more is there to ask for?